100 Greatest Artists

91

Tom Petty

Jody Hewgill

In 1976, I'd been in Fleetwood Mac for about a year when I heard Tom Petty's debut. I became a fan right then. I loved the way Tom's Florida swamp-dog voice sounded in cahoots with Mike Campbell's guitar and Benmont Tench's keyboards. Tom had the same influences we had — the Byrds, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills and Nash — but he dropped in lots of serious old blues. And Tom is such a great singer and so charismatic onstage. I became such a fan that if I hadn't been in a band myself, I would have joined that one.

When I started doing my first solo album, Bella Donna, my first thought was, "Who produces Tom Petty?" When they said Jimmy Iovine, I got Jimmy, because I wanted my solo work to be as much like Tom's as possible.

I first met Tom in the studio, and he was pretty much what I expected. There's not a fake bone in his body. Jimmy and Tom decided to give me "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," which they had written with Campbell. When they showed it to me, I was like, "Is this the right thing to do? I only get 11 songs and one of them won't be mine." And both Tom and Jimmy said to me, in a brutally honest way, "You don't have a single on this record. And here's a single for you."

Tom is a great and loyal friend, but he's also honest like that. In 1994, I had just gotten out of rehab, and Tom and I had dinner. I wanted to make a new record but I was scared. I said to him, "Will you help me write a song or two?" I didn't really expect the reaction I got, which was, "No, I won't. You are one of the premier songwriters in this business. Go home and turn off the radio. Don't be influenced by anything. Just write some great songs — that's what you do." He reinforced that I was still Stevie Nicks. I wrote a song about him I've never recorded, but I will someday. It goes, "Sometimes he's my best friend, even when he's not around."

In 2006, I did 27 shows with him. Tom made me a little platinum sheriff's badge that had 24-karat gold and diamonds across the top and said "To Our Honorary Heartbreaker, Stevie Nicks." On the back it says "To the Only Girl in Our Band." I keep it on my black velvet top hat. It goes with me everywhere. It's probably the most beautiful piece of jewelry a man has ever given me, ever.

Best of Rolling Stone

Around the Web

x

Add a Comment